Food Intolerance vs Food Allergy vs Food Sensitivity

Pop quiz! What is the difference between food intolerance, food allergy and food sensitivity?  If you don’t know, read on. If you do, then read on as well.

Food Intolerance

Food intolerance is simply a bad or negative reaction from the gastrointestinal (“GI”) tract and does not involve the immune system at all.  Usually caused by the body’s inability to digest a certain food (that is, when the body is deficient in one or more enzymes), the GI tract ends up producing symptoms like gas, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea and/ or indigestion.  The reaction may be instant or it could take up to 30 minutes or more to occur depending on the level of the intolerance.

Food Allergies

Unlike food intolerance, a food allergy can be quite severe and DOES involve the body’s immune system.  In order for the immune system to get involved, food particles must somehow enter the bloodstream through any food-exposed surface in the GI tract.  First off, to understand this concept, you must be aware that your GI tract is simply a tube from your mouth to your anus and therefore is an EXTERNAL environment.  If any part of the GI tract is not healthy, food can pass through tiny perforations in the intestinal lining and enter the bloodstream.  When this happens, the immune system immediately notices a foreign substance (food) WITHIN the body and starts sending ‘troops’ to attack, immobilize and destroy the foreign substance.  After the food particles are destroyed, the immune system ‘memorizes’ the food in order for the attack to occur more quickly and with more force every time the specific food object is detected in the bloodstream.  This is why people with serious food allergies tend to have stronger and more severe allergic reactions every subsequent time that they eat the food that they are allergic to.  Though food allergies can be quite severe and potentially fatal in some situations, the reactions are fairly acute and usually are limited to few foods like nuts and seeds (although other food types can also cause allergic reactions).

Food Sensitivities

Last but not least, food sensitivities – the most common of the three.  Food sensitivities are usually chronic conditions with symptoms that include headaches, diarrhea, respiratory congestion (mucus/phlegm), fatigue, brain ‘fog’, body pain as well as several other unpleasant symptoms..  Similar to food intolerances, the immune system is not involved with food sensitivities and food sensitivities may take up to several days or more to present symptoms.  Because of this delay, they are usually unnoticed by the individual, especially since most of the symptoms are mistakenly associated with causes  other than food.  You might think that food sensitivities should be the lesser of the three ‘evils’ listed in this article, however, this is not true.  There is a huge movement which believes that food sensitivities are actually the cause of many chronic conditions like migraines, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis and a host of others.

In all three cases, the best solution is to find out whether or not certain foods could be causing your current health conditions or making the situation worse.  Meridian Stress Assessment (MSA) is one excellent way for you to find out what types of foods are causing imbalance within your organ systems and help you determine an optimal diet plan based on your unique situation.  Give us a call today to book your appointment.

So, did you pass the quiz?  Congratulations if you did, but don’t worry if you didn’t – the important thing to know is that you have got a Team of experts at Inspired Life Health Centre ready to help when you need it.

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